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Monday, December 7, 2015

Catholic schools, educating in the fullness of humanity

Vatican City, 7 December 2015 (VIS) – An education in the fullness of humanity is should be the defining feature of Catholic schools, said Pope Francis this morning to the members of the Association of Catholic School Parents in Italy (AGESC), whom he received in audience in the Clementine Hall. “Speaking about a Catholic education is equivalent to speaking about the human, about humanism”, he emphasised. “An inclusive education finds a place for all and does not select in an elitist way the beneficiaries of its efforts”.

“Your association is at the service of the school and the family, contributing to the delicate task of building bridges between the school and the territory, between the school and the family, between the school and civil institutions. … As parents, you are the depositories of the primary and irrevocable duty and right to educate your children, in this way helping in a positive and constant way in the task of the school. You have the right to demand a suitable education for your children, an integral education open to the most authentic human and Christian values. However, it is also your responsibility to ensure that the school is up to the educational task entrusted to it, especially when the education it proposes is described as 'Catholic'. It pray to the Lord that the Catholic school never take for granted the meaning of this adjective”.

The Pope went on to list the prerequisites for a school to describe itself as truly Catholic. These included transmitting “an integral, not ideological culture” and “promoting harmony in diversity”. However, he said to the members of AGESC, “How can this be applied in practice? It is not an easy task”. To this end, he invited the parents of pupils in Catholic schools to build bridges between the school and society, and always to remember theneed to construct an educating community in which, along with the teachers, various workers and students, parents are able to be agents in the educational process”.

“Do not be extraneous to this world; live within it like leaven in the dough”, he said. “My invitation to you is simple but bold: know how to make the difference with a high quality formation. Find methods and ways of not passing unnoticed behind the scenes of society and culture, without arousing clamour, not with projects full of rhetoric. Know how to distinguish yourselves for your constant attention to the person, especially the least among us, those who are cast aside, denied and forgotten. Know how to be noticed not for your 'facade', but for educational coherence rooted in the Christian vision of humanity and society”. He also remarked that at a time when the economic crisis has led to the closure of many private schools, “the temptation of 'numbers' becomes increasingly insistent, and this leads to discouragement. But despite all this I repeat: it is the quality of your presence that makes the difference, not the quantity of resources you have at your disposal”.

“Never betray the human and Christian values you bear witness to in the family, in school and in society. Give generously your contribution so that the Catholic school never becomes a fall-back option or a meaningless alternative among the various educational institutions. Collaborate so that Catholic education has the face of new humanism. … Strive to make Catholic schools truly open to all”, concluded the Holy Father.

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